Posted: 10 September 2014
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Ensuring future electricity network’s operability
Ensuring future electricity network’s operability

Predicting the future is uncertain, but the more data available, the better the forecast tends to be. National Grid's new framework aims to improve the outlook further.

,,, a new electricity system landscape that is very different to what we have been used to.

Dr Vandad Hamidi, SMARTer System Performance Manager

National Grid’s new System Operability Framework (SOF) is designed to complement the UK Future Energy Scenarios (FES), provide greater clarity on the likely impact of the scenarios on the UK electricity transmission system, and inform the new services and products which will be needed for future operability of the system.

The annual Future Energy Scenarios (FES) published by National Grid are designed to provide a credible analysis of energy scenarios up to 2050. They suggest in detail how the energy landscape will change over the coming decades and help identify where extra transmission capacity will be needed.

A new addition to the FES, the System Operability Framework (SOF), has been designed to add current system operation experience to the long-term predictions, thus highlighting for market players the potential opportunities in meeting demand for new services.

The key changes for the electricity sector are expected to be in the way electricity is generated and consumed. To meet carbon reduction targets, the UK needs to introduce significant volumes of low-carbon generation technologies, such as photovoltaic (PV) and wind-driven turbines, to replace conventional generation that relies on burning coal and gas. Studies predict that the way electricity is used and managed will also see significant changes. Heat pumps and electric vehicles will create new demand for electricity.

Dr Vandad Hamidi, SMARTer System Performance Manager at National Grid

Dr Vandad Hamidi, SMARTer System Performance Manager at National Grid

“These, combined with measures to manage demand, all contribute to a new electricity system landscape that is very different to what we have been used to,” said Dr Vandad Hamidi, SMARTer System Performance Manager at National Grid.

“By combining knowledge and experience with detailed system analysis, it is possible to extrapolate the current experience of operating the network into the future, across multiple scenarios. This will enable us to identify common themes and to evaluate different approaches to mitigate or adapt to changes where they occur.” said Dr Hamidi.

With its responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the UK’s electricity grid, National Grid’s job is to ensure the system is operated in the most economic, efficient and coordinated way. Part of that job is looking to the future to anticipate the changing energy picture and make sure the company can maintain the continuous operability of the grid.

“But can we continue to operate the system this well in a completely different energy landscape?” asks Dr Hamidi. “And what new tools and techniques will we need to ensure that we can continue to operate our electricity system economically and efficiently?”

As a prudent system operator, National Grid is continually assessing the changes expected in the dynamics of the transmission system. These include system inertia, system strength, increase in the volume of embedded generation, or even the likely impact of new technologies. SOF allows these changes and their effects on operability of the transmission system to be studied holistically. SOF will also ensure the necessary means of dealing with these technical challenges are identified.”

It is however crucial that we work together with our stakeholders in identifying both the challenges and the solutions to ensure the solutions proposed provide maximum benefit for the system, and the consumers.

The System Operability Framework (SOF)

The System Operability Framework (SOF)


National Grid’s Network Strategy team is running a question-based consultation to get industry feedback on SOF that will help it develop the quality of the analysis, and findings reported in the first version of SOF, in ways that will make it most useful to the energy industry.

A summary of SOF, incorporating public comments and responses to the SOF consultation, is expected to be published as part of National Grid’s Electricity Ten Year Statement (ETYS) in November.

To take part in the survey, visit

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